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After Legislative All-nighter, Dayton Ends Minnesota Shutdown by Signing Bills

Rep. Knuth tweeted her displeasure.

ended on its 20th day Wednesday morning with Gov. Mark Dayton's signing of a dozen budget bills that the House and Senate passed overnight in a marathon, 12-hour special session.

At 9 a.m. Wednesday, Dayton signed into law all 12 budget bills passed in the middle of the night Wednesday by the Minnesota House and Senate. Dayton’s signatures ended the shutdown of Minnesota government—at 20 days, it was the longest continuous shutdown of any state government in United States history.

Special Session
Insults were hurled. Accusations were made. Pleas were ignored. But in the end, the people’s business was finished.

It took less than an hour’s work for Minnesota lawmakers, who reconvened Tuesday afternoon, to pass five bills—and each legislative body ended up passing 12 bills between 3 p.m Tuesday and 3:30 a.m. Wednesday.

Knuth: 'I vote no'

Rep. Kate Knuth, a DFLer who represents a slice of southeastern Fridley, logged her displeasure with the session's breakneck pace and lack of public input via Twitter, starting with this message: "first budget bill in special session. Transportation bill. abt 10 minutes of debate." Then came:

6:46 p.m. Tuesday: "Trying to figure out how the public has any chance to understand what these bills actually do."

9:48 p.m. Tuesday: "Appropriation bonds being used to solve #MNbudget have never been used in MN. Future generations will pay for today's spending. I vote no."

2:50 a.m. Wednesday: "MN House passed K-12 bill, nearly 40% of budget, an hour after it was posted online, at 2:30 am. Shifts school funding 40%."

The Bills
Listed below are the bills and the votes that passed them:   

Minnesota Senate
Bonding bill: 53-11
K-12 Education: 36-28
State Government
bill: 40-24
Health and Human Services bill: 37-27
Pensions bill: 61-3
Taxes bill: 37-27
Judiciary/Public Safety
bill: 57-7
Environment bill: 43-22
Jobs and Economic Growth bill: 42-23
Transportation bill: 38-27
Higher education bill: 35-30
Legacy bill: 65-0

Minnesota House of Representatives
State Government bill: 81-47
K-12 Education bill: 71-56
Health and Human Services bill: 71-57
Pensions bill: 115-12
Bonding bill: 112-17
Legacy bill: 98-30
Taxes bill: 71-57
Transportation bill: 71-56
Higher education bill: 71-57
Judiciary/Public Safety bill: 77-51
Environment bill: 71-57
Jobs and Economic Growth bill: 76-50

How It Began
The House and Senate took their seats in the Legislature at around 3 p.m. Tuesday, opened the special session, observed a moment of silence for the late Sen. Linda Scheid (DFL-Brooklyn Park) and then recessed for more than three hours.

When they reconvened at around 7 p.m., they got to work. Within an hour, the Senate had passed six bills; the House had passed five. The Legislature then went into recess again; lawmakers were back at their desks later in the evening.

The session, with often acrimonious debate, ended after 3 a.m. Wednesday with all bills passed.

The bigger budget bills were the session's most complex and contentious pieces of legislation, including health and human services, taxes, K-12 education, bonding, pension and state government.

Earlier: 'Be Ready'
The overarching message to Minnesotans is “Be ready.” That came from Gov. Mark Dayton’s chief of staff, Tina Smith, and Minnesota Management and Budget commissioner Jim Schowalter.

Smith and Schowalter sounded cautious optimism in a conference call with media on Tuesday afternoon.

“There are a lot of assumptions right now,” Schowalter said. “But it is important to remind everyone that normal operations will not resume immediately. The bills must pass both bodies and then be signed into law by the governor.”

Schowalter said that while the timing and enactment of the bills was still uncertain, after Dayton signs them, money will become available to the respective agencies.

It’s “unlikely,” Smith said, that state workers would go back to their jobs on Wednesday, noting the logistics of passing the legislation and contacting workers. Each agency will have its own process for resuming operations, and state employees will be given 24 hours notice to return to work, Schowalter explained.

Smith and Schowalter concluded the call by encouraging Minnesotans to check out the Be Ready website, created by the state to deliver real-time information.

“We are moving forward with two things right now: urgency and common sense,” Smith said.

“The goal,” Smith reiterated, “is to restart the government as quickly as we can and get Minnesotans back to work.” 

John Haluska July 20, 2011 at 03:34 PM
It’s so appropriate. The radical GOP Tea Party legislature working in the dark of night used that cover to push through bill after bill without anyone having the time to read or understand the import of its actions. The GOP met all expectations. With an almost total radical resistance to reason their BORROW AND SPEND budget is an assault on the old, the sick, and our children; an insult to our working families. Stealing from our state's future to give to a few greedy rich is exactly what we got from a bunch of right-wing zealots. You can’t even say they are fools who meant well because the GOP Tea Party embraces a truly sinister ideology and you saw their “to hell with the democratic process” attitude in action last night as they rammed through bill after bill. It was legislation crafted in closed rooms, without a care for what it was doing to tomorrow’s Minnesota. The only objective was to spare the rich from paying their fair share of taxes. How are they going to explain the evil they have done to their children? Will they say Jesus made them do it? They had a whole regular session to get the budget work done, but spent it on their social theology. And, the crimes they committed last night against the people of the state could have been committed 20 days ago and spared us the shutdown. GOP Tea Party Rep Dean last night said it best: “guilty as charged”. At least we have Dayton as governor. He was able to kill some of the worst they had in store for us.

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